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Keywords:

  • centrosymmetry;
  • phase problem;
  • racemic crystallography;
  • space group

Racemic protein crystallography offers two key features: an increased probability of crystallization and the potential advantage of phasing centric diffraction data. In this study, a phasing strategy is developed for the scenario in which a crystal is grown from a mixture in which anomalous scattering atoms have been incorporated into only one enantiomeric form of the protein molecule in an otherwise racemic mixture. The structure of a protein crystallized in such a quasi-racemic form has been determined in previous work [Pentelute et al. (2008), J. Am. Chem. Soc.130, 9695–9701] using the multiwavelength anomalous dispersion (MAD) method. Here, it is shown that although the phases from such a crystal are not strictly centric, their approximate centricity provides a powerful way to break the phase ambiguity that ordinarily arises when using the single-wavelength anomalous dispersion (SAD) method. It is shown that good phases and electron-density maps can be obtained from a quasi-racemic protein crystal based on single-wavelength data. A prerequisite problem of how to establish the origin of the anomalous scattering substructure relative to the center of pseudo-inversion is also addressed.